For many years my mother and I were estranged. I prickled when she was brought up in conversations. We just didn’t get on. I wanted to move away from it all. To forget.
Every time I tried to tell her something that I felt was wrong or I knew or made good sense, she would say “Don’t make sense. Make sausages.”
My father and she would laugh. I always thought they were laughing at me. It’s an awful feeling to have your parents make fun of you like that.
“Don’t make sense, make sausages.”
How could I respond to that? I wasn’t making sausages.
I even missed my fathers funeral as we were estranged and I couldn’t face her.
I struggled with her as I grew up, really thinking she was insane. I dismissed the things she used to say, she sounded like a mad woman to me.
“You can’t make sense out of nonsense.” I used to say to my friends.
I dropped everything when I got the call that she was dying.
My mother was the only family I had left.
She didn’t look good at all. Her breathing was slow and difficult, like our relationship.
“You never understood me, did you?” She said.
She was talkative and said did your father ever tell you I used to work in a sausage factory?
I cringed as it was back to sausages again.
She told me how her and my father for the first time.
It was low paid work, but who else doing low paid work has a choice?
My mother got on really well with her co-workers, and while she didn’t enjoy the job
she could see how it could be improved.
My mother's idea was to purchase a new grinder. It would enable them to process higher
quality meat. Those with a higher meat ratio and move into selling higher quality
sausages. It would also mean they could produce more sausages overall.
A large outlay at the start but the business could be far better in the long run.
The other workers encouraged her to speak up.
Each morning the boss would talk for five minutes, a pep talk, saying how the business
was doing or if any big orders were coming in.
One morning my mother spoke up.
The boss was not interested.
In a workplace, it's more about hierarchy and respect for authority.
A bad business will always ignore good ideas.
Some people need to assert their position in the hierarchy.
A couple of other workers joined in, saying it that it made sense.
The boss got really mad. He didn’t want to hear it. He shouted at them :
“Don’t make sense, make sausages.”
He stopped doing the pep talks after that.
It became a running joke among all the workers,
and was often repeated when the boss would make one of his foolish decisions.
New Day New Sausages
One day my mother went into work and the sausage production had changed.
They had adopted my mother's idea.
She noticed she was often asked to go into the bosses office, for no apparent reason.
He started to ask her advice on things.
One day the boss asked her out.
Regret and Relief
So, when my parents repeated the phrase to me and laughed they were just
remembering their time in the sausage factory.
The humiliation of being made fun of, which my father once felt, I had carried for all my
I had been so wrong.
My mother looked at me and I think she saw the love in my eyes for the first time.
“Don’t make sense, son,” she said.
Our eyes filled up with tears.
“Make Sausages.” We said together, those wasted years falling away.
I titled this piece you can’t make sense out of nonsense — then set out to disprove it.
I’ve been saying ‘don’t make sense, make sausages’ for years so I thought with this story it was a way to give it meaning.